When someone refers to the Dog Days of Summer, they are actually referencing the hottest time of the year, typically July 3-August 11. The phrase has its origins from the Greeks and Romans when the Sirius “Dog Star” appeared to rise before the sun in late July.

It’s also a time of year when we must seek creative ways to keep our pets safely entertained and exercised during the hot summer months. As pets still need exercise, a daily walk becomes problematic if you live in high heat country. Any dog can suffer heatstroke within minutes.  Don a fur coat and go for a walk outside to grasp how bad it is for them.

Short-nosed and overweight dogs overheat quicker. Brachycephalic breeds with their flat faces and short skulls such as Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Boxers, Pugs, Pekinese, Lhasa Apso, Boston Terriers, Brussels Griffon, Cavalier King Charles, and Bull Mastiffs are especially vulnerable.

Their airways are already compromised by a reduced ability to breathe which make them highly susceptible to heat exhaustion and stroke. As all dogs regulate their body heat by panting, excessive hot and humid conditions make it much harder for these unique breeds, if not a strain on any dog while spending time outdoors in the sun.

Limit Outdoor Exercise & Reduce Intensity

While exercise is essential for pets, it’s important to be mindful of the temperature when taking them outside. Avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest parts of the day, typically between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Instead, schedule walks and playtime during the cooler parts of the day.

During hot weather, reduce the intensity and duration of walks to prevent pets from becoming overheated. Focus on shorter, more leisurely strolls to ensure safety and comfort.

Choose Shaded Routes

Hot pavement can burn a pet’s paw pads, so always test the surface with your hand or barefoot before allowing them to walk on it. Some pet owners may have protective booties for their dog. Opt for walking routes that offer plenty of shade, such as tree-lined streets or parks with shaded pathways.

walking dogs safely in the summer in shady spots

Shade and Shelter

Whether your pets spend most of their time indoors, it’s also important to provide shady spots when outside for brief moments. Keep curtains and blinds closed during the hottest part of the day to block out the sun’s rays.

Provide Lots of Water

Always carry a portable water bottle and bowl for pets to stay hydrated during walks. Offer water breaks frequently to prevent dehydration. Make sure your pets have access to plenty of fresh, cool water at all times. Dehydration can occur quickly in hot weather, so regularly refill their water bowls and also consider placing multiple bowls around your home and yard.

Use Sun Protection

Light or pink-skinned dogs will benefit by a little pet sunscreen when outdoors. Extra caution is required in this regard, as not all sunscreen products work for dogs. For further information on sunscreen products for dogs, please read this great article: https://www.vetinfo.com/what-is-the-best-dog-sunscreen.html Cooling vests and bandanas are a good accessory to have on hand when walking dogs in the hot summer months.

Other Cool-Down Ideas

  • If you have access to a pool, go for a swim! Some breeds are not naturally amphibious or may be reluctant without proper water introduction, so fill a small, plastic play pool with cool water instead.
  • Serve tasty cool-down treats.  Fill an ice-cube tray with low-salt chicken broth or stuff a Kong with peanut butter or cream cheese and freeze before serving.

Pet Pro Tip: Another fun summer recipe: Blend one ripe banana, 4 ounces of plain yogurt, 1 TB creamy peanut butter and freeze in containers to serve as a healthy doggie “ice cream”. Add sliced apples, carrots or chopped chicken for extra flavor!

  • Groom your dogs, remove matts and tangles and consider a minor summer trim. Their coats protect them in both winter and summer, so a shave-down is not recommended. A daytime bath in the tub can be a fun cool down moment also!
  • Invest in entertainment toys and puzzles. A new toy can be fun for any dog!
  • Cooling dog beds and mats are all the rage this time of year. These special beds include a gel-activated insert to help keep pets chill.

Know the Signs of Heatstroke

Every pet sitter and dog owner should know these common signs of heatstroke:

  • Mental “dullness”
  • Red gums
  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Thick, sticky saliva
  • Unable or unwilling to move
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Collapsing or loss of consciousness

If you suspect a dog is suffering from heatstroke, place him/her in a cool tub, shower or wrap a cool towel around the body, including the back of their head and neck. Do not use ice-cold water and keep their head elevated (while in the tub or shower). If you can take their temperature, normal body heat for a dog is 99-101. If their temperature is at 103 or above, call your vet. Temperatures between 106-107 degrees are life threatening.

The best way to avoid heatstroke is to eliminate strenuous exercise during peak hours, do not leave dogs outside during the day and NEVER leave them in a car. A car can become an oven quickly.

As pet owners and professional pet sitters, it’s our responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of our furry companions, especially during the hot summer months. By following these essential tips for keeping pets cool, you can help prevent heat-related illnesses.

Our Association offers a boatload of pet sitter resources, training, tips and tools to help you grow your pet sitting business.  Join us today to enjoy the benefits of membership @ https://www.associationofpetprofessionals.com/join-us

Stay cool, be safe and enjoy your summer!


Your Pet Pro Team @ AoPP

photo attributions:

2 dogs panting in the sun: Elina Volkova on pexels AND dog walker under shady tree: Julio Lopez on pexels